U.S. women's soccer loses to Mexico for first time in nearly 14 years in Gold Cup shocker

United States forward Lynn Williams, left, and Mexico defender Greta Espinoza, right, vie for the ball.

Goals by Lizbeth Ovalle and Mayra Pelayo lifted Mexico to a stunning 2-0 win over the U.S. women’s national team Monday in the final group-play game of the CONCACAF W Gold Cup in front of a crowd of 11,612 at Dignity Health Sports Park.

The win was just the second for Mexico against the U.S. in 43 games, the first coming nearly 14 years ago in Cancun. And the result was well deserved, with Ovalle putting Mexico ahead to stay in the 38th minute and Pelayo doubling the advantage midway through the second-half stoppage time.

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Mexico came out aggressive and physical, making the U.S. very uncomfortable in the opening half, much of which was played in the American end. As a result, the U.S. didn’t get its first shot on goal until the 35th minute, when Emily Fox’s try from outside the box was parried wide by Mexican keeper Esthefanny Barreras at the left post.

Two minutes later, Ovalle gave Mexico the lead, taking the ball off Becky Sauerbrunn’s foot, dribbling into the box alone, then lifting a soft left-footed shot over keeper Alyssa Naeher and just under the crossbar.

If was the first goal the U.S. has given up in the tournament and just the third it has conceded since November 2022. And Mexico nearly got another in first-half stoppage time when Karla Nieto beat  Naeher from distance only to see her right-footed shot bang off the bar.

Mexico midfielder Mayra Pelayo, right, celebrates with teammate Karen Luna after scoring against the U.S. on Monday.
Mexico midfielder Mayra Pelayo, right, celebrates with teammate Karen Luna after scoring against the U.S. on Monday. (Ryan Sun / Associated Press)

The U.S. hadn't given up two goals in a game in 22 matches and in more than 15 months, but that streak ended when Pelayo drilled a shot from well outside the box over a leaping Naeher.

The U.S. started six World Cup champions and brought another two off the bench, yet at times the chemistry was so lacking the players looked as if they’d never met, much less played together. They left Naeher to keep them in the game, making a trio of fine saves in the final seven minutes to keep her team within a goal before Pelayo sealed things.

With the win, Mexico (2-0-1) heads into this weekend’s tournament quarterfinals at BMO Stadium as the group champion. The U.S. (2-1-0) also advances as the second-place team.

Read more: U.S. shuts out Argentina to advance in CONCACAF W Gold Cup play

In the other group-play finale, Argentina beat the Dominican Republic 3-0 on goals from Dalila Ippolito, Celeste dos Santos and Maricel Pereyra, keeping alive its chances to advance to the quarterfinals as a third-place team.

Argentina finished the first round 1-1-1 while the Dominican Republic, outscored 16-0, went winless in its first regional competition and was eliminated.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.